Saturday, March 8, 2014

Veteran Play Lifts Canisius Men To Win Over Siena

It came down to experience, the intelligent and efficient performance of veteran players down the stretch that enabled Canisius to get past Siena, 71-65, in a quarterfinal round contest of the men's MAAC tournament on Saturday.

The Golden Griffins advanced to the event's semifinal round, where they'll play top-seeded Iona Sunday at 4:30 p.m., for the first time since the 2001-02 season's event with some late-game play by its senior-laden roster.

In a game that saw 21 lead changes, Siena took its final advantage on a Rob Poole three-pointer with four minutes left.

And, then, Canisius closed things out with an 11-4 run in the final four minutes to secure the victory.

Chris Manhertz (a basket and two free throws), Billy Baron (two baskets, one a three-pointer) and Chris Perez (one bucket, on a Baron assist) accounted for the winners' last 11 points.

The point producers were all seniors.

Manhertz, the powerfully built 6-foot-6 senior forward, also had a put-back bucket just before the late-game surge that enabled the Griffs to take a 60-58 advantage just before Poole made his trey to put the Saints on top for the final time.

Manhertz, still playing with a plastic face mask to protected a broken nose suffered several weeks ago, added a game-high 11 rebounds to his 10 points. He was one of five Canisius players in double figures.

In all, seniors Baron, Manhertz, Perez and center Jordan Heath combined for 51 of the winners' 71 points.

Siena, on the other hand, doesn't have a single scholarship player on its roster and its lineup down the stretch was comprised of two freshmen, a sopohomore and two juniors.

After it took the 61-60 lead, Siena only managed two more basket, while missing one shot and committing two turnovers in the final four minutes.

The veteran Canisius squad scored on its final seven possessions of the contest.

Siena paid extra attention to the Griffs' senior point guard and Player of the Year Baron, holding him to 17 points and six assists. In the two previous meetings with Siena, Baron had scored 40 points in the most-recent contest and had 21 points and 13 assists in the first regular-season game between the programs.

"They really worked hard trying to take the ball out of Billy's hands," said the point guard's father and Canisius coach Jim Baron. "But we had other guys step up."

Canisius is now 21-11 overall, while Siena finishes at 15-17, a seven-victory improvement from an 8-24 finish a year ago.

"We still had a great year," said first-year Saints' coach Jimmy Patsos. "I'm proud of this team No one thought that we'd win 15 games this season."

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